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IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2015 Nov;62(11):2620-8. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2015.2437952.

Automated Assembly of Vascular-Like Microtube With Repetitive Single-Step Contact Manipulation.


Fabricated vessel-mimetic microtubes are essential for delivering sufficient nutrient to engineered composite tissues. In this paper, vascular-like microtubes are engineered by automated assembly of donut-shaped micromodules that embed fibroblast cells. A microrobotic system is set up with dual manipulators of 30-nm positioning resolution under an optical microscope. The system assembles the micromodules by repeated single-step pick-up motions. This process is specifically designed to avoid human interference and ensure high reproducibility for automation. We optimized the single-step motion by calibrating the key parameters (the micromodule dimensions) in a force analysis. The optimal motion achieved a 98% pick-up success rate. The automated repetitive single-step assembly is achieved by an algorithm that acquires the 3-D location and tracks the micromanipulator without being affected by low contrast. The accuracy of the acquired 3-D location was experimentally determined as approximately 1 pixel (2 μm under 4× magnification), and the tracking under different observation conditions is proved effective. Finally, we automatically assembled microtubes at 6 micromodules/min, sufficiently fast for fabricating macroscopic vessel-mimetic substitutes in biological applications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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